Afternoon Budget Rundown: State House Begins Floor Debate

In the day after the state Senate passed a budget plan along party lines, government agencies, state universities, teachers and a raft of advocates have offered their reactions as the state House attempts to ensure that Governor Tom Corbett has the chance to sign the plan into law before the start of the new fiscal year.

The Associated Press’ Mark Scolforo has an update on the House floor debate, which got underway shortly after 3pm on Wednesday.

State-funded universities will indeed likely experience cuts – though not nearly as drastic as the ones included in the Governor’s original budget proposal, Jan Murphy writes.  And the heads of those universities are promising to tamp down tuition increases as they seek to make up for the lost funds.

“Leaders of the state-funded colleges pledged to keep tuition increases low and not ask students to cover the entire loss of state aid,” the story reads.  “And while they don’t like getting a funding cut, they are grateful the cuts were softened through the budget-making process and hope state revenues grow to allow some funding restoration next year.”

Penn State’s agricultural research and education efforts will bear a 19 percent cut, the Patriot News’ Jeff Frantz notes in a brief item posted Wednesday afternoon.

Governor Corbett’s school voucher plan, meanwhile, is facing more troubled passage, Murphy noted.  Over at Capitol Ideas, John Micek is reporting that the package could include plans to convert troubled schools to charter schools or essentially replace soon-to-be-expired state funding for charters.

The United Way’s state chairman, meanwhile, called the budget “totally unfair” and accused lawmakers of “trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor,” according to a report filed Wednesday afternoon by Borys Krawczeniuk at the Citizens Voice.  Krawczeniuk also includes a consise rundown of specific cuts and funding restorations included in the current budget agreement.

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